IB History of the Americas Skills Handbook

Dollison: IB History of the Americas, Skills Handbook
IB History of the Americas
Skills Handbook
I) How to read history…………………………………………………………...........................1
II) How to take notes ………………………………………………………….............................4
III) Document analysis/OPVL…………………………………………………………………....7
IV) Writing for IB History……………………………………………………………………....11
V) Internal Assessment-Historical Investigation……………………………………………….19
VI) PowerPoints and Roundtables……………………………………………………………....22
VII) Evaluating Websites……………………………………………………………………..….23
A: PowerPoint Rubric…………………………………………………………………...25
B: PowerPoint Rubric…………………………………………………………………...26
C: Essay Markbands…………………………………………………………………….27
D: IA Historical Investigation Rubric…………………………………………………...29
E: IA Historical Investigation FAQ……………………………………………………..31
F: Glossary of Command Terms
I) How to Read History (and learn stuff)
You are expected to do much more reading IB, so you might as well learn to read more
effectively. Here are five tips to help you improve your reading:
1. Read for a purpose (Styles of reading) There are three styles of reading which we use in
different situations: scanning, skimming, and detailed
Scanning: for a specific focus. The technique you use when you’re looking up a name in the
phone book: you move your eye quickly over the page to find particular words or phrases
that are relevant to the task you’re doing. It’s useful to scan parts of texts to see if they’re
going to be useful to you:
the introduction or preface of a book
the first or last paragraphs of chapters
the concluding chapter of a book.
Skimming: for getting the gist of something The technique you use when you’re going
through a newspaper or magazine: you read quickly to get the main points, and skip over the
detail. It’s useful to skim:
to preview a passage before you read it in detail
to refresh your understand of a passage after you’ve read it in detail.
to decide if a book in the library is useful for your research.
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Detailed reading: for extracting information accurately Where you read every word, and
work to learn from the text.
In this careful reading, you may find it helpful to skim first, to get a general idea, but
then go back to read in detail.
Use a dictionary to make sure you understand all the words used.
2. Active reading
When you’re reading for your course, you need to make sure you’re actively involved with the
text. It’s a waste of your time to just passively read, the way you’d read a thriller on holiday.
Always take notes (two column notes or outline) to keep up your concentration and
Here are four tips for active reading.
Underlining and highlighting
>Pick out what you think are the most important parts of what you are reading.
>If you are a visual learner, you’ll find it helpful to use different colors to highlight
different aspects of what you’re reading. (ex. pink for social, green for economic, …)
Note key words, terminology, names, places and dates
>Record the main headings and outline as you read. This is really easy in a textbook,
because the headings are already printed in bold type.
>Use one or two keywords for each point.
>When you cannot mark the text, keep a folder of notes you make while reading.
>Leave space in your notes to add information discussed in class
>Before you start reading something like an article, a chapter or a whole book, prepare
for your reading by noting questions you want the material to answer.
>In a text book change the headings to a question. (ex. Causes of the Great Depression. =
What caused the Great Depression?)
>While you’re reading, note questions which the author raises.
>In IB it is important to note alternative points of view
Pause after you’ve read a section of text. Then:
1. put what you’ve read into your own words;
2. skim through the text and check how accurate your summary is and
3. fill in any gaps.
A tip for speeding up your active reading
You should learn a huge amount from reading on your own and not by being spoon fed
by a teacher. If you read passively, without learning, you’re wasting your time. So train
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your mind to learn.
Try the SQ3R technique. SQ3R stands for Survey, Question, Read, Recall and Review.
Gather the information you need to focus on the work and set goals:
Read the title to help prepare for the subject
Read the introduction or summary to see what the author thinks are the key points
Notice the boldface headings to see what the structure is
Notice any maps, graphs or charts. They are there for a purpose
Notice the reading aids, italics, bold face, questions at the end of the chapter.
They are all there to help you understand and remember.
Help your mind to engage and concentrate. Your mind is engaged in learning when it is
actively looking for answers to questions. Try turning the boldface headings into
questions you think the section should answer.
Read the first section with your questions in mind. Look for the answers, and make up
new questions if necessary.
After each section, stop and think back to your questions. See if you can answer them
from memory. If not, take a look back at the text. Do this as often as you need to.
Once you have finished the whole chapter, go back over all the questions from all the
headings. See you if can still answer them. If not, look back and refresh your memory.
4. Spotting authors’ navigation aids
Learn to recognize sequence signals, for example:
“Three advantages of…” or “A number of methods are available…” leads you to expect several
points to follow.
The first sentence of a paragraph will often indicate a sequence: “One important cause of…”
followed by “Another important factor…” and so on, until “The final cause of…”
Whatever you are reading, be aware of the author’s background. It is important to recognize the
bias given to writing by a writer’s political, religious, social background. Learn which
newspapers and journals represent a particular standpoint.
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5. Words and vocabulary
In your writing for IB, you are expected to use the correct vocabulary in the context of your
analytical writing. On quizzes you are expected to define a term like “containment”. In an essay
you would be asked to evaluate Truman’s policy of containment. To expand your vocabulary:
Choose a large dictionary rather than one which is ‘compact’ or ‘concise’. You want one which
is big enough to define words clearly and helpfully (around 1,500 pages is a good size).
Avoid dictionaries which send you round in circles by just giving synonyms. A pocket dictionary
might suggest: ‘impetuous = rash’.
A more comprehensive dictionary will tell you that impetuous means ‘rushing with force and
violence’, while another gives ‘liable to act without consideration’, and add to your
understanding by giving the derivation ‘14th century, from late Latin impetuous = violent’.
It will tell you that rash means ‘acting without due consideration or thought’, and is derived from
Old High German rasc = hurried.
So underlying these two similar words is the difference between violence and hurrying.
There are over 600,000 words in the Oxford English Dictionary; most of them have different
meanings, (only a small proportion are synonyms).
If you haven’t got your dictionary with you, note down words which you don’t understand and
look them up later. It is a waste of time to read an essay on neorealism in foreign policy without
first being able to define neorealism.
Source: http://www.studyskills.soton.ac.uk/studytips/reading_skills.htm
II) How to Take Notes (and learn stuff)
To succeed (learn stuff and make good marks) you will have to do a lot of note-taking at,
much more than you have ever had to do before.
We cover six aspects of making notes:
a. Be selective
b. Mind maps
c. Cornell system
d. Using notes
e. Taking notes as you listen
a. Be selective
Note-taking does not mean writing down everything you read or hear. Your notes should be a
clear summary of essential points in a text or lecture. Be selective about what you write
down. Notes should help you to:
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Fix information in your mind, and
Here are two ways of taking notes. Which do you prefer?
b. Mind-mapping
If you're a Visual Learner you'll find patterns easier to use than lists of ideas, so you may
want to use mind maps (which are also called spider diagrams).
Mind maps can help you to connect information in a variety of ways. You can use them for:
Making notes,
Planning essay answers and
Start in the middle of a page with the subject title or topic, and add major points along a line
from the centre, with additional ideas branching out from the main points. Use connecting
lines to link up ideas/points from different branches. Like this:
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c. Cornell Method
If you are an Auditory Learner, you may prefer to use a system like the Cornell Method,
an example of which is given below:
e. Using your notes
Whatever method you use, it's important that you do something with your notes. You
need to go through them while the lecture is still fresh in our mind, within 24 hours, and
make sure you tidy them up and summarize them.
Use highlighters and coloured pens to highlight key points and to link relevant facts and
Make it a rule after each lecture to:
Tidy up your notes
Make them more legible if you need to
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Summarize your notes
Write down the main points to make it easy to revise for exams later.
If you use the Cornell system, you can overlay your pages so you only see the left-hand
margin, and read the essentials of the lecture from your summary notes.)
Fill in your notes
Fill in from memory examples and facts which you didn't have time to get down in the
Clarify your notes
If any parts of the lecture were unclear, ask me, a reliable fellow-student, or check your
Highlight your notes
Make the key points stand out:
Underline them,
Highlight them in a bright color, or
Mark them with asterisks.
f. Making notes as you listen
>Apart from the date and title (if it's given) don't try to write anything at the start of a
>Listen to find out what the content is going to be.
>Write down key words / ideas. You don't have to write in complete sentences.
>Use abbreviations.
III) How to Analyze Documents (and learn stuff)
History is all about the documents! Being able to analyze documents following the OPVL
guidelines is crucial for success in IB history
Origin, Purpose, Value and Limitation (OPVL) is a technique for analyzing historical
documents. It is used extensively in the International Baccalaureate curriculum and testing
materials, and is incredibly helpful in teaching students to be critical observers. It is also known
as Document Based Questions (DBQ).
In order to analyze a source, you must first know what it is. Sometimes not all of these questions
can be answered. The more you do know about where a document is coming from, the easier it
is to ascertain purpose, value and limitation. The definition of primary and secondary source
materials can be problematic. There is constant debate among academic circles on how to
definitively categorize certain documents and there is no clear rule of what makes a document a
primary or a secondary source.
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Primary – letter, journal, interview, speeches, photos, paintings, etc. Primary sources are
created by someone who is the “first person”; these documents can also be called
“original source documents. The author or creator is presenting original materials as a
result of discovery or to share new information or opinions. Primary documents have not
been filtered through interpretation or evaluation by others. In order to get a complete
picture of an event or era, it is necessary to consult multiple--and often contradictory-sources.
Secondary – materials that are written with the benefit of hindsight and materials that
filter primary sources through interpretation or evaluation. Books commenting on a
historical incident in history are secondary sources. Political cartoons can be tricky
because they can be considered either primary or secondary. Note: One is not more
reliable than the other. Valuable information can be gleaned from both types of
documents. A primary document can tell you about the original author’s perspective; a
secondary document can tell you how the primary document was received during a
specific time period or by a specific audience.
Other questions must be answered beyond whether the source is primary or secondary and will
give you much more information about the document that will help you answer questions in the
other categories.
• Who created it?
• Who is the author?
• When was it created?
• When was it published?
• Where was it published?
• Who is publishing it?
• Is there anything we know about the author that is pertinent to our evaluation?
This last question is especially important. The more you know about the author of a document,
the easier it is to answer the following questions. Knowing that George was the author of a
document might mean a lot more if you know you are talking about George Washington and
know that he was the first president, active in the creation of the United States, a General, etc.
This is the point where you start the real evaluation of the piece and try to figure out the purpose
for its creation. You must be able to think as the author of the document. At this point you are
still only focusing on the single piece of work you are evaluating.
• Why does this document exist?
• Why did the author create this piece of work? What is the intent?
• Why did the author choose this particular format?
• Who is the intended audience? Who was the author thinking would receive this?
• What does the document “say”?
• Can it tell you more than is on the surface?
Avoid saying “I think the document means this…” Obviously, if you are making a statement it is
coming from your thoughts. Instead say: “The document means this…because it is supported by
x evidence.”
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Now comes the hard part. Putting on your historian hat, you must determine: Based on who
wrote it, when/where it came from and why it was created…what value does this document have
as a piece of evidence? This is where you show your expertise and put the piece in context.
Bring in your outside information here.
• What can we tell about the author from the piece?
• What can we tell about the time period from the piece?
• Under what circumstances was the piece created and how does the piece reflect those
• What can we tell about any controversies from the piece?
• Does the author represent a particular ‘side’ of a controversy or event?
• What can we tell about the author’s perspectives from the piece?
• What was going on in history at the time the piece was created and how does this piece
accurately reflect it? It helps if you know the context of the document and can explain what the
document helps you to understand about the context.
The following is an example of value analysis:
The journal entry was written by President Truman prior to the dropping of the atomic bomb on
Japan and demonstrates the moral dilemma he was having in making the decision of whether to
drop the bomb or not. It shows that he was highly conflicted about the decision and very aware
of the potential consequences both for diplomatic/military relations and for the health and
welfare of the Japanese citizens.
This is probably the hardest part. The task here is not to point out weaknesses of the source, but
rather to say: at what point does this source cease to be of value to us as historians? With a
primary source document, having an incomplete picture of the whole is a given because the
source was created by one person (or a small group of people?), naturally they will not have
given every detail of the context. Do not say that the author left out information unless you have
concrete proof (from another source) that they chose to leave information out. Also, it is obvious
that the author did not have prior knowledge of events that came after the creation of the
document. Do not state that the document “does not explain X” (if X happened later).
Being biased does not limit the value of a source! If you are going to comment on the bias of a
document, you must go into detail. Who is it biased towards? Who is it biased against? What
part of a story does it leave out? What part of the story is MISSING because of parts left out?
• What part of the story can we NOT tell from this document?
• How could we verify the content of the piece?
• Does this piece inaccurately reflect anything about the time period?
• What does the author leave out and why does he/she leave it out (if you know)?
• What is purposely not addressed?
This is again an area for you to show your expertise of the context. You need to briefly explain
the parts of the story that the document leaves out. Give examples of other documents that might
mirror or answer this document. What parts of the story/context can this document not tell?
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An OPVL paragraph would follow the example below:
The origin of this source is a journal that was written by _________ in ________ in _______. Its
purpose was to __________________ so ___________________. A value of this is that it gives
the perspective of __________________________. However, a limitation is that ____________
______________________, making_____________________ ___________________________.
Cartoon Analysis
Author of the cartoon:
Date of publication:
Newspaper or medium:
Level 1
Words (not all cartoons include words)
1. List the objects or people you see in the
1. Identify the cartoon caption and/or title.
2. Locate three words or phrases used by
the cartoonist to identify objects or
people within the cartoon.
3. Record any important dates or numbers
that appear in the cartoon.
Level 2
2. Which of the objects on your list are
4. Which words or phrases in the cartoon
appear to be the most significant? Why
3. What do you think each symbol means?
do you think so?
5. List adjectives that describe the
emotions portrayed in the cartoon.
Level 3
A. Describe the action taking place in the cartoon.
B. Explain how the words in the cartoon clarify the symbols.
C. Explain the message of the cartoon.
D. What special interest groups would agree/disagree with the cartoon's message? Why?
National Archives and Records Administration Document Analysis Forms
< http://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/ >
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IV) Writing in Social Studies
Tips for Writing Your Thesis Statement
1.Determine what kind of paper you are writing:
An analytical paper breaks down an issue or an idea into its component parts, evaluates
the issue or idea, and presents this breakdown and evaluation to the audience.
An expository (explanatory) paper explains something to the audience.
An argumentative paper makes a claim about a topic and justifies this claim with
specific evidence. The claim could be an opinion, a policy proposal, an evaluation, a
cause-and-effect statement, or an interpretation. The goal of the argumentative paper is to
convince the audience that the claim is true based on the evidence provided.
If you are writing a text which does not fall under these three categories (ex. a narrative), a thesis
statement somewhere in the first paragraph could still be helpful to your reader.
2. Your thesis statement should be specific—it should cover only what you will discuss in your
paper and should be supported with specific evidence.
3. The thesis statement usually appears at the end of the first paragraph of a paper.
4. Your topic may change as you write, so you may need to revise your thesis statement to reflect
exactly what you have discussed in the paper.
Thesis Statement Examples
Example of an analytical thesis statement:
An analysis of the college admission process reveals one challenge facing counselors: accepting
students with high test scores or students with strong extracurricular backgrounds.
The paper that follows should:
explain the analysis of the college admission process
explain the challenge facing admissions counselors
Example of an expository (explanatory) thesis statement:
The life of the typical college student is characterized by time spent studying, attending class,
and socializing with peers.
The paper that follows should:
explain how students spend their time studying, attending class, and socializing with
Dollison: IB History of the Americas, Skills Handbook
Example of an argumentative thesis statement:
High school graduates should be required to take a year off to pursue community service projects
before entering college in order to increase their maturity and global awareness.
The paper that follows should:
present an argument and give evidence to support the claim that students should pursue
community projects before entering college
Structure of an Essay
1) Introduction
The introduction is the broad beginning of the paper that answers three important questions:
1. What is this?
2. Why am I reading it?
3. What do you want me to do?
You should answer these questions by doing the following:
1. Set the context – provide general information about the main idea, explaining the
situation so the reader can make sense of the topic and the claims you make and support
2. State why the main idea is important – tell the reader why s/he should care and keep
reading. Your goal is to create a compelling, clear, and convincing essay people will want
to read and act upon
3. State your thesis/claim – compose a sentence or two stating the position you will support
with logos (sound reasoning: induction, deduction), pathos (balanced emotional appeal),
and ethos (author credibility).
For exploratory essays, your primary research question would replace your thesis statement so
the audience understands why you began your inquiry. An overview of the types of sources you
explored might follow your research question.
If your argument paper is long, you may want to forecast how you will support your thesis by
outlining the structure of your paper, the sources you will consider, and the opposition to your
position. Your forecast could read something like this:
First, I will define key terms for my argument, and then I will provide some background of the
situation. Next I will outline the important positions of the argument and explain why I support
one of these positions. Lastly, I will consider opposing positions and discuss why these positions
are outdated. I will conclude with some ideas for taking action and possible directions for future
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This is a very general example, but by adding some details on your specific topic, this forecast
will effectively outline the structure of your paper so your readers can more easily follow your
Thesis Checklist
Your thesis is more than a general statement about your main idea. It needs to establish a clear
position you will support with balanced proofs (logos, pathos, ethos). Use the checklist below to
help you create a thesis.
This section is adapted from Writing with a Thesis: A Rhetoric Reader by David Skwire and
Sarah Skwire:
Make sure you avoid the following when creating your thesis:
A thesis is not a title: Homes and schools (title) vs. Parents ought to participate more in
the education of their children (good thesis).
A thesis is not an announcement of the subject: My subject is the incompetence of the
Supreme Court vs. The Supreme Court made a mistake when it ruled in favor of George
W. Bush in the 2000 election.
A thesis is not a statement of absolute fact: Jane Austen is the author of Pride and
A thesis is not the whole essay: A thesis is your main idea/claim/refutation/problemsolution expressed in a single sentence or a combination of sentences.
Please note that according to the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, Sixth
Edition, "A thesis statement is a single sentence that formulates both your topic and your
point of view" (Gibaldi 56). However, if your paper is more complex and requires a
thesis statement, your thesis may require a combination of sentences.
Make sure you follow these guidelines when creating your thesis:
A good thesis is unified: Detective stories are not a high form of literature, but people
have always been fascinated by them, and many fine writers have experimented with
them (floppy). vs. Detective stories appeal to the basic human desire for thrills (concise).
A good thesis is specific: The Great Depression was a major economic crisis in the
United States. vs. The Great Depression changed the role of the federal government with
regard to economic management in the United States
Try to be as specific as possible (without providing too much detail) when creating your
Quick Checklist:
_____ The thesis/claim follows the guidelines outlined above
_____ The thesis/claim matches the requirements and goals of the assignment
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_____ The thesis/claim is clear and easily recognizable
_____ The thesis/claim seems supportable by good reasoning/data, emotional appeal
2-3,4) Body Paragraphs: Moving from General to Specific Information
Your paper should be organized in a manner that moves from general to specific information.
Every time you begin a new subject, think of an inverted pyramid - the broadest range of
information sits at the top, and as the paragraph or paper progresses, the author becomes more
and more focused on the argument ending with specific, detailed evidence supporting a claim.
Lastly, the author explains how and why the information she has just provided connects to and
supports her thesis (a brief wrap up or warrant).
Image Caption: Moving from General to Specific Information
The four elements of a good paragraph (TTEB)
A good paragraph should contain at least the following four elements: Transition, Topic
sentence, specific Evidence and analysis, and a Brief wrap-up sentence (also known as a
warrant) – TTEB!
1. A Transition sentence leading in from a previous paragraph to assure smooth reading.
This acts as a hand off from one idea to the next. (end of previous paragraph)
2. A Topic sentence that tells the reader what you will be discussing in the paragraph.
3. Specific Evidence and analysis that supports one of your claims and that provides a
deeper level of detail than your topic sentence.
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4. A Brief wrap-up sentence that tells the reader how and why this information supports the
paper’s thesis. The brief wrap-up is also known as the warrant. The warrant is important
to your argument because it connects your reasoning and support to your thesis, and it
shows that the information in the paragraph is related to your thesis and helps defend it.
Supporting evidence (induction and deduction)
Induction is the type of reasoning that moves from specific facts to a general conclusion.
When you use induction in your paper, you will state your thesis (which is actually the
conclusion you have come to after looking at all the facts) and then support your thesis
with the facts. The following is an example of induction taken from Dorothy U. Seyler’s
Understanding Argument:
There is the dead body of Smith. Smith was shot in his bedroom between the hours of
11:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m., according to the coroner. Smith was shot with a .32 caliber
pistol. The pistol left in the bedroom contains Jones’s fingerprints. Jones was seen, by a
neighbor, entering the Smith home at around 11:00 p.m. the night of Smith’s death. A
coworker heard Smith and Jones arguing in Smith’s office the morning of the day Smith
Conclusion: Jones killed Smith.
Here, then, is the example in bullet form:
Conclusion: Jones killed Smith
Support: Smith was shot by Jones’ gun, Jones was seen entering the scene of the
crime, Jones and Smith argued earlier in the day Smith died.
Assumption: The facts are representative, not isolated incidents, and thus reveal a
trend, justifying the conclusion drawn.
When you use deduction in an argument, you begin with general premises and move to a
specific conclusion. There is a precise pattern you must use when you reason deductively.
This pattern is called syllogistic reasoning (the syllogism). Syllogistic reasoning
(deduction) is organized in three steps:
1. Major premise
2. Minor premise
3. Conclusion
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In order for the syllogism (deduction) to work, you must accept that the relationship of
the two premises lead, logically, to the conclusion. Here are two examples of deduction
or syllogistic reasoning:
1. Major premise: All men are mortal.
2. Minor premise: Socrates is a man.
3. Conclusion: Socrates is mortal.
1. Major premise: People who perform with courage and clear purpose in a crisis are
great leaders.
2. Minor premise: Lincoln was a person who performed with courage and a clear
purpose in a crisis.
3. Conclusion: Lincoln was a great leader.
So in order for deduction to work in the example involving Socrates, you must agree that
1) all men are mortal (they all die); and 2) Socrates is a man. If you disagree with either
of these premises, the conclusion is invalid. The example using Socrates isn’t so difficult
to validate. But when you move into more murky water (when you use terms such as
courage, clear purpose, and great), the connections get tenuous.
For example, some historians might argue that Lincoln didn’t really shine until a few
years into the Civil War, after many Union losses to Southern leaders such as Robert E.
The following is a more clear example of deduction gone awry:
1. Major premise: All dogs make good pets.
2. Minor premise: Doogle is a dog.
3. Conclusion: Doogle will make a good pet.
If you don’t agree that all dogs make good pets, then the conclusion that Doogle will
make a good pet is invalid.
When a premise in a syllogism is missing, the syllogism becomes an enthymeme.
Enthymemes can be very effective in argument, but they can also be unethical and lead to
invalid conclusions. Authors often use enthymemes to persuade audiences. The following
is an example of an enthymeme:
If you have a plasma TV, you are not poor.
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The first part of the enthymeme (If you have a plasma TV) is the stated premise. The
second part of the statement (you are not poor) is the conclusion. So the unstated premise
is “Only rich people have plasma TVs.” The enthymeme above leads us to an invalid
conclusion (people who own plasma TVs are not poor) because there are plenty of people
who own plasma TVs who are poor. Let’s look at this enthymeme in a syllogistic
Major premise: People who own plasma TVs are rich (unstated above).
Minor premise: You own a plasma TV.
Conclusion: You are not poor.
To help you understand how induction and deduction can work together to form a solid
argument, you may want to look at the American Declaration of Independence. The first
section of the Declaration contains a series of syllogisms, while the middle section is an
inductive list of examples. The final section brings the first and second sections together
in a compelling conclusion.
4) Rebuttal Sections
In order to present a fair and convincing message, you may need to anticipate, research, and
outline some of the common positions (arguments) that dispute your thesis. If the situation
(purpose) calls for you to do this, you will present and then refute these other positions in the
rebuttal section of your essay.
It is important to consider other positions because in most cases, your primary audience will be
fence-sitters. Fence-sitters are people who have not decided which side of the argument to
People who are on your side of the argument will not need a lot of information to align with your
position. People who are completely against your argument - perhaps for ethical or religious
reasons - will probably never align with your position no matter how much information you
provide. Therefore, the audience you should consider most important are those people who
haven't decided which side of the argument they will support - the fence-sitters.
In many cases, these fence-sitters have not decided which side to align with because they see
value in both positions. Therefore, to not consider opposing positions to your own in a fair
manner may alienate fence-sitters when they see that you are not addressing their concerns or
discussion opposing positions at all.
Organizing your rebuttal section
Following the TTEB method outlined in the Body Paragraph section, forecast all the information
that will follow in the rebuttal section and then move point by point through the other positions
addressing each one as you go. The outline below, adapted from Seyler's Understanding
Argument, is an example of a rebuttal section from a thesis essay.
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When you rebut or refute an opposing position, use the following three-part organization:
The opponent’s argument – Usually, you should not assume that your reader has read or
remembered the argument you are refuting. Thus at the beginning of your paragraph, you need to
state, accurately and fairly, the main points of the argument you will refute.
Your position – Next, make clear the nature of your disagreement with the argument or position
you are refuting. Your position might assert, for example, that a writer has not proved his
assertion because he has provided evidence that is outdated, or that the argument is filled with
Your refutation – The specifics of your counterargument will depend upon the nature of your
disagreement. If you challenge the writer’s evidence, then you must present the more recent
evidence. If you challenge assumptions, then you must explain why they do not hold up. If your
position is that the piece is filled with fallacies, then you must present and explain each fallacy.
5) Conclusions
Conclusions wrap up what you have been discussing in your paper. After moving from general to
specific information in the introduction and body paragraphs, your conclusion should begin
pulling back into more general information that restates the main points of your argument.
Conclusions may also call for action or overview future possible research. The following outline
may help you conclude your paper:
In a general way,
restate your topic and why it is important,
restate your thesis/claim,
address opposing viewpoints and explain why readers should align with your position,
call for action or overview future research possibilities.
Remember that once you accomplish these tasks, unless otherwise directed by your instructor,
you are finished. Done. Complete. Don't try to bring in new points or end with a whiz bang(!)
conclusion or try to solve world hunger in the final sentence of your conclusion. Simplicity is
best for a clear, convincing message.
The preacher's maxim is one of the most effective formulas to follow for argument papers:
1. Tell what you're going to tell them (introduction).
2. Tell them (body).
3. Tell them what you told them (conclusion)
Source: Purdue Online Writing Lab < http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl >
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V) Internal Assessment-Historical Investigation
See Appendix E for Historical Investigation FAQ
Historical Investigations must be written following the Chicago Manual of Style,
examples of footnotes and bibliography entries can be found at the website below.
o < http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html >
• To acknowledge your dependence on another person's ideas or words, and to distinguish clearly
your own work from that of your sources.
• To receive credit for the research you have done on a project, whether or not you directly quote
or borrow from your sources.
• To establish the credibility and authority of your knowledge and ideas.
• To place your own ideas in context, locating your work in the larger intellectual conversation
about your topic.
• To permit your reader to pursue your topic further by reading more about it.
• To permit your reader to check on your use of the source material.
WHY FOOTNOTES? There are various styles of citations. Historians usually make use of the
Chicago Style (see below for samples). We use this style because of:
quick access (the information is there at the bottom of the page vs. endnotes where you
have to keep flipping to the end)
elaboration (allows you to further develop select points that would take you away from
the main narrative). The MLA style, for example, does not allow for this tangential
WHAT NOT TO FOOTNOTE. It is not necessary to footnote what is referred to as "common
knowledge." Succinctly, if you can find it in the World Book Encyclopedia, then it is common
WHAT SHOULD YOU FOOTNOTE. There are five basic rules that apply to all disciplines and
should guide your own citation practice. Even more fundamental, however, is this general rule:
when in doubt whether or not to cite a source, do it. You will certainly never find yourself in
trouble if you acknowledge a source when it is not absolutely necessary; it is always preferable
to err on the side of caution and completeness. Better still, if you are unsure about whether or not
to cite a source, ask your professor or preceptor for guidance before submitting the paper.
1. Direct Quotation. Any verbatim use of the text of a source, no matter how large or small the
quotation, must be clearly acknowledged. Direct quotations must be placed in quotation marks
or, if longer than three lines, clearly indented beyond the regular margin. The quotation must be
accompanied, either within the text or in a footnote, by a precise indication of the source,
identifying the author, title, and page numbers. Even if you use only a short phrase, or even one
key word, you must use quotation marks in order to set off the borrowed language from your
own, and cite the source.
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2. Paraphrase. If you restate another person’s thoughts or ideas in your own words, you are
paraphrasing. Paraphrasing does not relieve you of the responsibility to cite your source. You
should never paraphrase in the effort to disguise someone else’s ideas as your own. If another
author’s idea is particularly well put, quote it verbatim and use quotation marks to distinguish his
or her words from your own. Paraphrase your source if you can restate the idea more clearly or
simply, or if you want to place the idea in the flow of your own thoughts. If you paraphrase your
source, you do not need to use quotation marks. However, you still do need to cite the source,
either in your text or a footnote. You may even want to acknowledge your source in your own
text ("Albert Einstein believed that…"). In such cases, you still need a footnote.
3. Summary. Summarizing is a looser form of paraphrasing. Typically, you may not follow your
source as closely, rephrasing the actual sentences, but instead you may condense and rearrange
the ideas in your source. Summarizing the ideas, arguments, or conclusions you find in your
sources is perfectly acceptable; in fact, summary is an important tool of the scholar. Once again,
however, it is vital to acknowledge your source -- perhaps with a footnote at the end of your
paragraph. Taking good notes while doing your research will help you keep straight which ideas
belong to which author, which is especially important if you are reviewing a series of
interpretations or ideas on your subject.
4. Facts, Information, and Data. Often you will want to use facts or information you have found
in your sources to support your own argument. Certainly, if the information can be found
exclusively in the source you use, you must clearly acknowledge that source. For example, if you
use data from a particular scientific experiment conducted and reported by a researcher, you
must cite your source, probably a scientific journal or a Web site. Or if you use a piece of
information discovered by another scholar in the course of his or her own research, you must
acknowledge your source. Or perhaps you may find two conflicting pieces of information in your
reading -- for example, two different estimates of the casualties in a natural catastrophe. Again,
in such cases, be sure to cite your sources.
Information, however, is different from an idea. Whereas you must always acknowledge use of
other people’s ideas (their conclusions or interpretations based on available information), you
may not always have to acknowledge the source of information itself. You do not have to cite a
source for a fact or a piece of information that is generally known and accepted -- for example,
that Woodrow Wilson served as president of both Princeton University and the United States, or
that Avogadro’s number is 6.02 x 1023. Often, however, deciding which information requires
citation and which does not is not so straightforward. Refer to the later section in this booklet,
Not-So-Common Knowledge, for more discussion of this question.
5. Supplementary Information. Occasionally, especially in a longer research paper, you may not
be able to include all of the information or ideas from your research in the body of your own
paper. In such cases, you may want to insert a note offering supplementary information rather
than simply providing basic bibliographic information (author, title, date and place of
publication, and page numbers). In such footnotes or endnotes, you might provide additional data
to bolster your argument, or briefly present a alternative idea that you found in one of your
sources, or even list two of three additional articles on some topic that your reader might find of
interest. Such notes demonstrate the breadth and depth of your research, and permit you to
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include germane, but not essential, information or concepts without interrupting the flow of your
own paper.
In all of these cases, proper citation requires that you indicate the source of any material
immediately after its use in your paper. For direct quotations, the footnote (which may be a
traditional footnote or the author’s name and page number in parenthesis) immediately follows
the closing quotation marks; for a specific piece of information, the footnote should be placed as
close as possible; for a paraphrase or a summary, the footnote may come at the end of the
sentence or paragraph.
Simply listing a source in your bibliography is not adequate acknowledgment for specific use of
that source in your paper.
For international students, it is especially important to review and understand the citation
standards and expectations for institutions of higher learning in the United States.
AUTOMATIC FOOTNOTE INSERTION. Inserting footnotes is quite easy using current
computer software programs. For example, in Microsoft Word you click on the "Insert" link on
the top menu bar and then in the pop-up menu you have "footnote" as a selection and you click
there. Type footnote in your program's help section for specifics. The number automatically
comes up and now you just type in the data following the examples below and the program
automatically inserts it at the bottom of your page.
QUALITY OF RESEARCH. You will be evaluated on the quality of your selected sources. A
batch of websites is not very impressive; traditional books and articles [on the shelves in
libraries] are recommended. Again, DO NOT simply rely on Internet sources. Note that the
minimum number of footnotes does not mean that you need that many different sources; some of
course can be repeated and others used.
FOOTNOTE SAMPLES. There are various ways that your work can be documented/cited and
you probably learned one or more ways of doing this for another class. Historians prefer the
Chicago style and we will utilize that format in this paper assignment. A footnote number
should come at the end of the sentence. Sometimes, you might want to combine several
footnotes together at the end of a paragraph. Please follow these guidelines as you reference
your sources at the bottom of the page:
IF A BOOK: author, title, city and publisher, page number. For example:
Ronald T. Takaki, Iron Cages: Race and Culture in Nineteenth-Century America (New
York: Alfred Knopf Publ., 1979): 2.
IF AN ARTICLE: author, title, journal title, volume and page number. For example:
Ronald T. Takaki, “Within the ‘Bowels’ of the Republic,” Journal of History Vol XX,
No. 5: 4.
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IF AN ENCYCLOPEDIA OR DICTIONARY: Title, edition and term. For example:
Encyclopedia Britannica, 15th ed., s.v. “Evolution.”
FOR A WEBSITE: Title of site, website address. For example:
“Thomas Jefferson on Slavery” in Afro-American Almanac,
http://www.toptags.com/aama/voices/commentary/jeff.htm (25 March 2001).
Source: http://www.princeton.edu/pr/pub/integrity/pages/citing.html
VI) PowerPoint/Roundtable
Throughout the year you will be required to produce and PowerPoint presentation to augment a
roundtable discussion in which you teach on a specific topic.
PowerPoint Guidelines
• PowerPoints must be at least 10-15 slides, including:
o Title slide
o Topic/thesis slide
o Bibliography slide
• Presentation must include at least 5 high quality images, graphics, maps, etc.
• Presentations must include at least 2 relevant quotes.
• Slides must include footnotes (10 point font)
• Visually appealing, professional quality
o Contrast between background and font
o Easy to read fonts. Headings 32-44 pt, Body 20-26 pt
o Limited animation
o Appropriate sound or music
Roundtable Guidelines
• You are to direct a class discussion of your topic. You are the teacher
o Above all, be knowledgeable on your topic
o Lead discussion (don’t just lecture), encourage questions
o Provide handouts or note outlines
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VII ) Evaluating Websites as Sources
General search engines are not as comprehensive as they may seem. Also, they use mechanical
and commercial means to set and apply their priorities and criteria.
Rather than a search engine, you can use a directory. Directories are searched in the same way as
search engines, and often offer special search features such as classifications and controlled
vocabulary. Most importantly, directories are built by human reviewers of the listed sites.
Though your searches will give you smaller sets of results, you will find few if any sites in your
results that can't meet minimum standards.
INFOMINE. http://infomine.ucr.edu/
Librarians' Internet Index. http://lii.org/
The WWW Virtual Library. Use http://vlib.iue.it/history/index.html to go directly to the
WWW-VL History Central Catalogue site which can be searched, or can be browsed by
topic, country or eras.
A more complete list of directories is available at SUNY Albany Libraries
http://www.internettutorials.net/subject.html . This site also includes tutorials and other
guides to using the Internet.
Four Main Criteria for Evaluating Websites as Sources
Useful or Relevant. Does the site present information about your topic, and can the site
tell you something new about your topic?
Timely. Does the site include a date of posting or most recent update? Obviously
whatever happened in the past will not change, but what we know and think about it does
change. Also, recent updates to a site indicate that someone cares about the site, and
absence of a date indicates an unprofessional attitude.
Appropriate. Who appears to be the target audience for the site? Is it a scholarly or
general audience? How does that audience overlap with your own target audience?
Authoritative. Who wrote or takes responsibility for the information on the site? How do
they know what they claim to know? Is contact information available on the site?
o Methodology. Do they cite sources? Do they explain the process for any research
they report? Do they present clear and sound logic in their arguments? Do they
have a bias, and what difference does that bias make?
o Expertise. Do the author or authors present relevant credentials? Do they have
education or experience that is relevant to the topic? Have they written other
materials on the topic?
o Review. Is there a reputable agency supporting the site? University? Association?
Museum? Library? Has the site been included in a directory or in links from other
sites? Has the site been reviewed?
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On Wikipedia and Other Encyclopedic Sources
Wikipedia is a perfectly good source, depending on what you want to use it for. Its main
problem is the uneven editing. Its biggest assets are the lists of references and external links that
appear at the end of most entries.
Wikipedia’s Self-assessment as a source
< http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:About#Using_Wikipedia_as_a_research_tool>
Source: Jim Nichols, History Librarian, Penfield Library, SUNY
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Appendix A: Roundtable/PowerPoint Rubric
Name _____________________________________________ Date ____________________
Topic ______________________________________________________________________
on time
Below Avg.
not completely ready at deadline
1 day late
Visual Quality
Beyond class
Clearly stated
Not stated
No factual
No analysis
Few factual
Final Score
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Appendix B: Rubric for PowerPoint Presentations
Name__________________________________________Topic _______________________________
Font Choice/
Use of
Spelling and
Background does
not detract from text
or other graphics.
Choice of
background is
appropriate for
Background does not
detract from text or
other graphics.
Choice of background
could have been
better suited for the
Background does
not detract from text
or other graphics.
Choice of
background does
not fit project.
Background makes
it difficult to see text
or competes with
other graphics on
the page.
Font formats (e.g.,
color, bold, italic)
have been carefully
planned to enhance
readability and
All graphics are
attractive (size and
colors) and support
the theme/content
of the presentation.
Font formats have
been adequately
planned to enhance
Font formatting have
been planned to
complement the
content. It may be a
little hard to read.
Font formatting
makes it difficult to
read the material
A few graphics are
not attractive but all
support the
theme/content of the
All graphics are
attractive but a few
do not seem to
support the
theme/content of the
Captions or citations
Graphics are
unattractive &
detract from the
content of the
No captions or
Presentation has no
misspellings or
grammatical errors.
Presentation has 1-2
misspellings, but no
grammatical errors.
Presentation has 12 grammatical errors
but no misspellings.
Presentation has
more than 2
grammatical and/or
spelling errors.
Correctly applied intext citations or
works cited for all
relevant material
Includes in-text
citations or works
cited for most of the
relevant material
Includes in-text
citations or works
Relevant material is
not cited
All content
throughout the
presentation is
accurate. There are
no factual errors
Most of the content is
accurate but there is
one-piece information
that might be
Content is typically
confusing or
contains more than
several factual
Project includes all
material needed to
gain a comfortable
understanding of
the topic chosen.
Project includes most
material needed to
gain a comfortable
understanding of the
topic chosen.
The content is
generally accurate,
but one piece of the
information is clearly
flawed or
Project is missing
more than two key
Student presented
the material with
Student presented
material but could
have been more
Student had many
Student was unable
to present material
before the class.
Project is lacking
several key
elements and has
Dollison: IB History of the Americas, Skills Handbook
Appendix C: IB History of the Americas: Mark Bands for Essays
IB Rating
16 – 20 (7)
Point Rating
A: 94-100
Excellent Performance
1. demonstrates critical thinking (conceptual awareness, insight, and
2. logically structured and provides appropriate examples
3. precise use of terminology which is specific to the subject.
4. demonstrates a familiarity with the literature of the subject
5. analyzes and evaluates evidence.
6. synthesizes knowledge and concepts
7. demonstrates and awareness of alternate points of view and subjective
and ideological biases
13 – 15 (6)
B+: 90-93
10 – 12 (5)
B: 84-89
8 – 9 (4)
C+: 80-83
Satisfactory Performance
C: 74-79
1. demonstrates a secure knowledge and understanding of the subject
2. some ability to structure an answer but with insufficient clarity
3. demonstrates and ability to express knowledge and understanding in
terminology specific to the subject
4. some understanding of the way facts and ideas may be related
5. demonstrates and ability to develop ideas and substantiate assertions
6. descriptive in nature
Very Good Performance
demonstrates detailed knowledge and understanding
coherent, logically structured, and well developed
consistent use of appropriate terminology
demonstrates the ability to analyze evaluate and synthesize knowledge
and concepts
5. demonstrates knowledge of relevant research, theories and issues
6. awareness of different perspectives
Good Performance
demonstrates a sound knowledge and understanding of the subject
uses subject-specific terminology
logically structured and coherent but not fully developed
a competent answer with some attempt to integrate knowledge and
5. presents and develops contrasting points of view
6. more descriptive than evaluative
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6 – 7 (3)
D+: 70-73
Mediocre Performance
demonstrates some knowledge and understanding of the subject
a basic sense of structure that is not sustained throughout the answer
a basic use of terminology appropriate to the subject
some ability to establish links between facts and ideas
4 – 5 (2)
D: 64-69
Poor Performance
demonstrates a limited knowledge and understanding of the subject
some sense of structure
limited use of appropriate terminology
limited ability to establish links between facts and ideas
0 – 3 (1)
F: 0-63
Very Poor Performance
demonstrates very limited knowledge and understanding of the subject
almost no organizational structure
inappropriate or inadequate use of terminology
limited ability to comprehend data or to solve problems
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Appendix D: Historical Investigation Rubric
• Cover
• Page number
• Word counts
• Font
• Margins
Criterion A: Plan of Investigation
There is no plan of the investigation or it is inappropriate.
The scope and plan of the investigation are generally appropriate but not clearly
The scope and plan of the investigation are entirely appropriate and clearly focused.
Criterion B: Summary of Evidence
There is no evidence.
The investigation has been poorly researched and insufficient evidence has been
produced which is not always referenced.
The investigation has been adequately researched and some supporting evidence has
been produced and referenced.
The investigation has been well researched and good supporting evidence has been
produced which is correctly referenced.
Criterion C: Evaluation of Sources
There is no description or evaluation of sources.
Sources are described but there is no reference to their origin, purpose, value and
The evaluation of sources is generally appropriate and adequate but reference to their
origin, purpose, value and limitation, is limited.
The evaluation of sources is thorough and there is appropriate reference to their origin,
purpose, value, and limitation.
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Criterion D: Analysis
There is no analysis.
There is some attempt at analyzing the evidence and the importance of the
investigation in its historical context.
There is analysis of both the evidence and the importance of the investigation in its
historical context. Where appropriate, different interpretations are considered.
There is critical analysis of the evidence and the importance of the investigation in its
historical context. Where appropriate, different interpretations are analyzed.
Criterion E: Conclusion
There is no conclusion.
The conclusion is not entirely consistent with the evidence presented.
The conclusion is clearly stated and consistent with the evidence presented.
Criterion F: Sources and Word Limit
A list of sources is not included and/or the investigation is not within the word limit.
A list of sources is included but it is incomplete, or one standard method of listing
sources is not used consistently. The investigation is within the word limit.
A comprehensive list of all sources is included, using one standard method of listing
sources consistently. The investigation is within the word limit.
Total Marks:
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Appendix E: History Internal Assessment FAQ
What is an historical investigation?
It is a written account of between 1,500 and 2,000 words, divided into six sections: a plan of the
investigation, a summary of evidence, an evaluation of sources, an analysis, a conclusion, and a
bibliography or list of sources. The investigation must be a written piece and should be the work
of the individual student. Group work is not permitted.
Who needs to produce an historical investigation?
All higher level (HL) and standard level (SL) history students must write an investigation for
internal assessment.
How many words should there be in each section?
This is not prescribed but one suggestion is: A 100–150, B 500–600, C 250–400, D 500–650,
E 150–200. The total number of words in the investigation must be between 1,500 and 2,000.
How many marks is the investigation worth?
It is marked out of 25 for both SL and HL and is worth 25% of the final assessment at SL and
20% at HL.
When do students work on the investigation?
Timing is up to the teacher, but it is advisable to start the investigation at least three months
before the date that samples for the May and November sessions have to be with the moderators.
DHS students will work on a draft of their IA in the second semester of their 11th grade year.
Final drafts will be turned in around September of their 12th grade year.
What can the investigation be about?
The investigation can consider any genuine historical topic regardless of whether or not it is part
of the IB Diploma Programme history syllabus. Teachers should approve all topics.
What should the teacher do?
1. Explain how the internal assessment works. Students should be given a copy of the
instructions for the historical investigation from the “Internal assessment” section of the
2. Set a timetable for the different stages, for example, choosing the topic, first draft, and
final version.
3. Discuss topics and advise students to change unsuitable topics.
4. Guide students in the selection of appropriate and available sources.
5. Give guidance on how to tackle the exercise, emphasizing in particular the importance of
a well-defined research question, gathering evidence, the use and evaluation of sources,
analysis, and the use of a standard system for references and the bibliography.
6. Read the students’ first drafts (this can be done in sections) and advise them how their
work could be improved, but do not annotate the written draft heavily.
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7. Check the authenticity of the student’s draft to confirm that, to the best of your
knowledge, it is indeed the work of the student. If malpractice, such as plagiarism or
collusion, is identified before the coversheet has been signed by both the teacher and the
student, the issue must be resolved within the school. For further details about academic
honesty refer to the Handbook of procedures for the Diploma Programme and the
IB publication Academic honesty available on the OCC.
8. Mark and comment on all internal assessment work according to the criteria in the guide.
9. Make copies of internal assessment pieces selected for the sample to be sent to the
10. Ensure that you have signed forms 3CS and 3IA.
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Appendix F: Glossary of Command Terms
Candidates should be familiar with the following key terms and phrases used in examination
questions. Although these terms are used frequently in examination questions, other terms may
be used to ask candidates to present an answer in a specific way.
account for Asks candidates to explain a particular happening or outcome. Candidates are
expected to present a reasoned case for the existence of something.
For example: In 1970 the President Nixon authorized the CIA to carry out covert operations
aimed at deposing the popularly elected president of Chile. Account for this decision.
analyse Asks candidates to respond with a closely argued and detailed examination of a
perspective or a development. A clearly written analysis will indicate the relevant interrelationships between key variables, any relevant assumptions involved and also include a
critical view of the significance of the account as presented. If this key word is augmented by
"the extent to which" then the candidate should be clear that judgment is also sought.
For example: Analyse the political and economic changes caused by the Depression in one
country of the region.
assess Asks candidates to measure and judge the merits and quality of an argument or concept.
Candidates must clearly identify and explain the evidence for the assessment they make.
For example: “The Great Depression changed government’s views of their role and
responsibility.” Assess the validity of this statement with examples taken from two countries in
the region.
compare/compare and contrast Asks candidates to describe two situations and present the
similarities and differences between them. On its own, a description of the two situations does
not meet the requirements of this key word.
For example: Compare and contrast the Cold War Policies of Truman (‘45-’53) and Eisenhower
define Asks candidates to give a clear and precise account of a given word or term. Do not use a
word to define itself.
For example: Define the term "success ethic" with regard to the depression era.
describe Asks candidates to give a portrayal of a given situation. It is a neutral request to present
a detailed picture of a given situation, event, pattern, process or outcome, although it may be
followed by a further opportunity for discussion and analysis.
For example: Describe how the events of the Great Depression brought about economic changes
in Latin America.
Dollison: IB History of the Americas, Skills Handbook
discuss/consider Asks candidates to consider a statement or to offer a considered review or
balanced discussion of a particular topic. If the question is presented in the form of a quotation,
the specific purpose is to stimulate a discussion on each of its parts. The question is asking for
the candidate's opinions; these should be presented clearly and supported with as much empirical
evidence and sound argument as possible.
For example: Discuss how the outcome of Second World War, in part, caused the Cold War.
distinguish Asks candidates to demonstrate a clear understanding of similar terms.
For example: Distinguish between the goals of the First and Second New Deal.
evaluate Asks candidates to make an appraisal of the argument or concept under investigation or
discussion. Candidates should weigh the nature of the evidence available, and identify and
discuss the convincing aspects of the argument, as well as its limitations and implications.
For example: Evaluate President Truman’s decision to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima in
examine Asks candidates to investigate an argument or concept and present their own analysis.
Candidates should approach the question in a critical and detailed way which uncovers the
assumptions and interrelationships of the issue.
For example: Examine the influence of Kennan’s “long telegram” on the U.S policy of
explain Asks candidates to describe clearly, make intelligible and give reasons for a concept,
process, relationship or development.
For example: Explain why the United States become involved in the Second World War?
identify Asks candidates to recognize one or more component parts or processes.
For example: Identify significant treaties between the United States and the Soviet Union
designed to slow nuclear proliferation .
outline Asks candidates to write a brief summary of the major aspects of the issue, principle,
approach or argument stated in the question.
For example: Outline the causes and course of the Korean War.
to what extent? Asks candidates to evaluate the success or otherwise of one argument or
concept over another. Candidates should present a conclusion, supported by arguments.
For example: “The Vietnam War had a disastrous effect on the presidencies of Lyndon Johnson
and Richard Nixon.” To what extent do you agree with this statement?